With all the congressional drama happening in Washington, D.C., I don’t want to forget about one of our most fundamental environmental laws: the Endangered Species Act. Passed practically unanimously in 1973 during the Nixon administration, the Endangered Species Act protects our imperiled plants, wildlife, and habitat and recognizes that they “are of aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the nation and its people,” according to the Act’s preamble.
Let’s add economic value to that list. According to a 2017 report by the Outdoor Industry Association, the outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending, 7.6 million jobs, $65.3 billion federal tax revenue, and $59.2 state & local tax revenue. Yet, without clean habitats and biodiversity, we wouldn’t have the privilege to enjoy the prosperity that comes from the recreation industry.
Right now, some members of Congress are promising to gut the Endangered Species Act to make way for fossil fuel development in critical habitat areas, including our public lands. We need the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws to protect our disappearing wildlife and public lands. Our senators should protect the Endangered Species Act.